Ski industry ponders Jumbo future

Reaction to the approval of Jumbo has been mixed but what about the ski industry itself?

Reaction to the approval of Jumbo has been mixed — entities such as the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce applaud it, while groups like the environmental organization Wildsight deplore it — but what about the ski industry itself?

David Lynn, president and CEO of the Canada West Ski Areas Association, says it’s really a mixed feeling in the industry.

“I think everyone can empathize with the developer and how long the process has dragged on,” Lynn said. “Making a decision one way or the other was the right thing to do. On principle, the industry supports a free market. But our concern is with excess capacity.

“In terms of destination resorts, resorts that attract tourists themselves, which have accommodation on mountain, there are 13 in the province of British Columbia. There is significant excess capacity and I think some people at these resorts would question increasing that capacity.”

It’s an argument that has been raised before in the ongoing Jumbo debate.

Late last year the Ktunaxa Nation, which opposes the development, released an economic report which in part argued the resort would pull skiers away from other resorts in B.C. and Canada while bringing few new skiers into the area.

But locally, Panorama Mountain Village CEO Rick Jensen says the mega resort would help his hill more than it would hinder.

“Panorama is a bit of an unknown to a lot of the ski world,” Jensen said. “With Jumbo, it will be a very highly recognized mountain and we will get a lot of awareness from that, which will really improve skier visits to Panorama. I think we will also see a bit of cannibalization of skier visits, but I think the positives far outweigh that as far as the resort goes.”

In Rossland, Red Mountain Resort marketing manager Mika Hakkola takes a similar view.

“From a skiing stand point, I think it just puts British Columbia more on the map in terms of being a ski destination,” he said.

“Whether we think it will affect us, no one knows that at this point.”

Lynn says time will tell if the more is better philosophy holds true — if a Jumbo resort could attract skiers new to the province, this area in particular.

“It depends how unique the new offering is,” he said. “Glacier-based, year round-skiing is unique, but there is a huge amount of capital required to build out. It will depend on the extent it happens. I guess it’s the build it and they will come thing, but it remains to be proven.”

MCJOBS?

Jensen also spoke out against another common anti-Jumbo argument — that jobs created by the resort will mainly be minimum wage.

“Panorama alone, we have this winter a little over 500 employees. For full-time year-round employees we’ve got about 120. And these are all pretty good paying jobs, certainly not minimum wage jobs.”

With files from Val Rossie and Carolyn Grant

 

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